The progressive case for replacing the welfare state with basic income

post by morganism · 2016-09-11T22:41:34.545Z · score: -5 (14 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 22 comments

Contents

  "because they aren’t publicly acknowledging just how poorly our present  means-tested programs are targeted by virtue of their applied  conditions, and just how unequal one dollar can be to one dollar,  however counterintuitive that may seem."
  https://techcrunch.com/2016/09/09/the-progressive-case-for-replacing-the-welfare-state-with-basic-income/
None
22 comments

I really like this argument for UBI, it looks at the real problems on the front lines of current problems with existing programs.

Something has to be done about this, none of those manufacturing, or managerial jobs are coming back, and the minimum wage increase movement is going to really hammer youth and the un-skilled. Those are the easiest to radicalize, and once they get really angry, things could get ugly very quickly.

"because they aren’t publicly acknowledging just how poorly our present means-tested programs are targeted by virtue of their applied conditions, and just how unequal one dollar can be to one dollar, however counterintuitive that may seem."

"The fact is that cash welfare, as it exists today, is not given to the overwhelming majority of those living in poverty who need it."



https://techcrunch.com/2016/09/09/the-progressive-case-for-replacing-the-welfare-state-with-basic-income/


22 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Riothamus · 2016-09-12T18:17:58.467Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I think the basic income is an interesting proposal for a difficult problem, but I downvoted this post.

  1. This is naked political advocacy. Moreover, the comment is hyperbole and speculation. A better way to address this subject would be to try and tackle it from an EA perspective - how efficient is giving cash compared to giving services? How close could we come if we wanted to try it as charity?

  2. The article is garbage. Techcrunch is not a good source for anything, even entertainment in my opinion. The article is also hyperbolic and speculative, while being littered with Straw Man, Ad Hominem, and The Worst Argument In the World. If you are interested in the topic, a much better place to go look would be the sidebar of the subreddit dedicated to basic income.

Bad arguments for a bad purpose with no data doesn't make for quality discussion.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2016-09-12T03:02:27.572Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Something has to be done about this, none of those manufacturing, or managerial jobs are coming back

And a lot more jobs are soon to be automated out of existence.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-09-12T04:08:41.500Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

And a lot more jobs are soon to be automated out of existence.

That's a good thing. For example, the job of swinging a pick at the coal face in the mine has been automated out of existence. Do you really want it back?

comment by gjm · 2016-09-12T12:46:28.205Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Whether it's a good thing, and how good, depends on what happens to the people who had those jobs.

Imagine that there are a thousand people doing a horrible job for $20k/year. Now a machine of negligible cost comes along that can do the same job as one of them for $1k/year. Then, oversimplifying in some obvious ways, we have the following:

Option 1: Machines replace humans, workers take the benefits. Each of these people switches from doing the job for $20k/year to doing nothing for $19k/year. They're better off, their employer is exactly the same as before. This is better for some people and not worse for anyone. Of course it will never happen.

Option 2: Machines replace humans, owners take the benefits. Each of these people switches from doing the job for $20k/year to doing nothing for $0k/year. Maybe they can find other jobs, maybe not. Their employer is just $19k/year per worker better off. This is better for some people (the owners of the business) but much worse for the employees, at least in the short term. It is quite likely to happen.

(In this case, what probably happens next -- at least if there is competition -- is that the company lowers its prices somewhat. So now the business owners win and their customers win. In the long run these lower prices may lead to new jobs.)

Option 3: Something in between. A union negotiates a special deal, or the government steps in in the hope of reducing unemployment and disaffection, or something. Exactly what happens will vary but it's probably better for workers than 2 and worse than 1, better for owners than 1 and worse than 2, and probably a non-negligible fraction of the benefits get eaten up by administrative costs.

In the long run, all of these are probably better than leaving things as they are. In the short run -- say, a few decades -- option 2 (which is the most likely of the three, I think) means a thousand people out of work, and quite a lot of them may be unable to find other jobs. This may well be a bigger loss of net utility than the business owners' gain in wealth.

If machines end up taking everyone's jobs, that could be glorious (if it leads to lives of comfortable leisure for all) or terrible (if it leads to lives of comfortable leisure for people who are already wealthy enough not to need to work, and starvation for everyone else).

So: yes, a lot of jobs are pretty terrible and an optimal world without those jobs is much better than an optimal world with them. But we don't have the option of either sort of optimal world, we only get worlds designed by Moloch, and the Moloch-world without those jobs may be even worse than the Moloch-world with them.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-09-12T14:50:23.820Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Then, oversimplifying in some obvious ways, we have the following:

A bit too much oversimplification for my taste. In particular, there is a rather important bit missing: what happens to the price of the products (or services) that these people produced. Let's say they made widgets. In a market-based economy the price of the widgets would go down considerably and this will lead to a lot of extra consumer surplus for all buyers of widgets. This could easily be the most important effect and the greatest source of utility.

And because of that your option 2 is actually very unlikely to happen, other than in a monopoly-like situation, even in the short run.

In the long run, all of these are probably better than leaving things as they are.

There we go :-)

we only get worlds designed by Moloch

I don't know about that. Moloch has to wrestle with the invisible hand of Adam Smith :-D and the world we are currently living in isn't half bad, is it?

comment by gjm · 2016-09-12T16:19:36.849Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

In particular, there is a rather important bit missing: what happens to the price of the products (or services) that these people produced.

Yeah, in retrospect I should have said something like

(In this case, what probably happens next -- at least if there is competition -- is that the company lowers its prices somewhat. So now the business owners win and their customers win. In the long run these lower prices may lead to new jobs.)

... Oh, wait. I did.

comment by morganism · 2016-09-12T22:10:30.079Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

No, what happens is that the original producer plays a stock short on the new guy, does an M & A on them, then liquidates the new company while trapping any intellectual property and patents in the safe.

Then we lose competition, price pressure, and innovation.

And even more folks are out of work.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2016-09-13T17:42:42.244Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Good point. I expressed myself poorly.

A lot of people are soon to be automated out of economic viability as employees.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-09-13T18:51:23.054Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Arguably, some people are already not economically viable as employees. But I don't know why most of people wouldn't be able to adapt, just like their no-longer-economically-viable peasant ancestors did.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2016-09-18T22:35:03.700Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Until now, humans always had multiple competitive advantages in sensing, intelligence, and motor control, and an integrated system for all. That competitive advantage made them the best adaptable machines available.

That advantage is going away, particularly for the less intelligent and less educated.

Horses used to compete for real work in the economy, and win. Their population dwindled in the US as they were competed out of the marketplace by machines. Horse genocide. Their domesticated population has been coming back, but now as pets more than workers, and they're still not near the numbers they used to be.

How many human pets do people want? How many people want to be a pet?

When other things get smarter, cheaper, better, and you don't, eventually you lose. And machines have advantages to employers that people don't.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-09-19T15:13:47.032Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

When other things get smarter, cheaper, better, and you don't, eventually you lose.

That's the basic luddite proposition and the problem is that the entire history of mankind says that this is not the way it works. And if you are going to pronounce But This Time It Will Be Different, you need stronger arguments.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2016-09-23T16:37:48.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Wrong. This proposition has never been tested before. Things were not a threat to be smarter, cheaper, better before.

Humans have dominated the world through their intelligence. It's the most powerful factor of production.

You need a stronger argument than "intelligence is just the same as all other factors of production".

comment by Lumifer · 2016-09-23T19:08:43.788Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

"Cheaper and better" existed before, so you are focusing on "smarter". So what is that which is smarter than humans? Point it out to me.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2016-10-02T10:27:07.706Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Computers are already better than us in a ton of intelligence tasks, and that list is only going to get longer and longer.

comment by morganism · 2017-09-30T21:52:34.716Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Experiential governance for the age of complexity

https://www.sitra.fi/en/blogs/basic-income-just-beginning-finland-one-innovative-governments-world-looks-citizen-driven-governance/

"In the future, could the state also start collecting and sharing the most valuable productive technologies, not just money, with people?

"We are witnessing a whole new category of initiatives developed by single individuals or loose groups of people, with a minimal formal and legal structure. These initiatives range from urban events to different peer support groups or technological solutions to social problems."

"In the Basic Income Hackathon, different approaches to basic income were developed by competing teams. ‘Hacks’ ranged from communicating information about basic income to the participants and how housing costs can be accommodated to the basic income model, to algorthims to calculate the ideal tax / basic income relationship. The results provided content for actual experiments and created a foundation for a new kind of political discussion about different models and approaches.[16]"

comment by morganism · 2016-09-26T22:13:08.168Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

"A disaster is looming for American men"

"On the basis of these factors, I expect that more than one-third of all men between 25 and 54 will be out work at mid-century. Very likely more than half of men will experience a year of non-work at least one year out of every five."

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/09/26/larry-summers-a-disaster-is-looming-for-american-men/

https://www.aei.org/

comment by morganism · 2016-09-24T23:33:59.730Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Universal Basic Income May Sound Attractive But, If It Occurred, Would Likelier Increase Poverty Than Reduce It

Looking at the dollars, and some of the politics of the argument

http://www.cbpp.org/poverty-and-opportunity/commentary-universal-basic-income-may-sound-attractive-but-if-it-occurred

comment by The_Jaded_One · 2016-09-12T09:27:30.946Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't see why this article is on -1 karma at the moment. It's an interesting topic.

comment by Dagon · 2016-09-12T13:59:06.201Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting, but not relevant to rational thinking. And politics.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2016-09-12T02:55:40.029Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I was surprised at how popular Basic Income was in the recent survey.

I suspect one reason for that is that while some see it as an alternative to current programs, others see it as an additional program, and I don't believe the question specified which.

comment by Val · 2016-09-13T15:23:03.780Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Also, many people on this site seem to have come from a liberal / libertarian upbringing, where it is a very popular trend to believe in. The survey supports this, by presenting support for BI for each political group.

comment by morganism · 2016-09-12T22:16:26.663Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah , the reason we don't talk about it is that it's karma immolation.....Keneysian war can be tough as evolutionary pressure.

But we still have to talk about it more, there are just too many people impacted.

But, here is a list of the tent cities large enough, and stable enough to have been named. .

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_tent_cities_in_the_United_States

Camp Hope, Las Cruces, New Mexico [1]
Camp Quixote, Olympia, Washington State[2]
Camp Take Notice, Ann Arbor, Michigan[3]
Dignity Village, Portland, Oregon
Opportunity Village, Eugene, Oregon
Maricopa County Sheriff’s Tent City, Phoenix, Arizona
New Jack City and Little Tijuana, Fresno, California[2]
Nickelsville, located in Seattle[2][4]
Right 2 Dream Too, Portland, Oregon[5]
River Haven,[6] Ventura County, California[7][8]
Safe Ground, Sacramento, California[2]
The Jungle, San Jose, California[2]
Temporary Homeless Service Area (THSA), Ontario, California[2]
Tent City (100+ residents) of Lakewood, New Jersey[9][10]
Tent City, Avenue A and 13th Street, Lubbock, Texas[11]
Tent City, New Jersey forest[12]
Tent City, Bernalillo County, New Mexico[13]
Tent City, banks of the American River, Sacramento, California[14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22]
Tent City 3, Seattle
Tent City, Chicago, Illinois [1]
Tent City 4, eastern King County outside of Seattle
The Point, where the Gunnison River and Colorado River meet[23]
The Village of Hope and Community of Hope, Fresno, California[2]
Transition Park, Camden, New Jersey
Tent City, Fayette County, Tennessee, [2]
Camp Unity Eastside, Woodinville, WA [3]
China Hat Road, Bend, Oregon